US9007431B1 - Enabling the integration of a three hundred and sixty degree panoramic camera within a consumer device case - Google Patents

Enabling the integration of a three hundred and sixty degree panoramic camera within a consumer device case Download PDF

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US9007431B1
US9007431B1 US14/282,468 US201414282468A US9007431B1 US 9007431 B1 US9007431 B1 US 9007431B1 US 201414282468 A US201414282468 A US 201414282468A US 9007431 B1 US9007431 B1 US 9007431B1
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image
camera
electronic device
side image
case
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US14/282,468
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Dmitry Kozko
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360 LAB LLC
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Dmitry Kozko
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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N5/00Details of television systems
    • H04N5/222Studio circuitry; Studio devices; Studio equipment ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, TV cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules for embedding in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/225Television cameras ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules specially adapted for being embedded in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/232Devices for controlling television cameras, e.g. remote control ; Control of cameras comprising an electronic image sensor
    • H04N5/23238Control of image capture or reproduction to achieve a very large field of view, e.g. panorama
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N5/00Details of television systems
    • H04N5/222Studio circuitry; Studio devices; Studio equipment ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, TV cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules for embedding in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/225Television cameras ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules specially adapted for being embedded in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/2251Constructional details
    • H04N5/2254Mounting of optical parts, e.g. lenses, shutters, filters or optical parts peculiar to the presence or use of an electronic image sensor
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N5/00Details of television systems
    • H04N5/222Studio circuitry; Studio devices; Studio equipment ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, TV cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules for embedding in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/225Television cameras ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules specially adapted for being embedded in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/2258Cameras using two or more image sensors, e.g. a CMOS sensor for video and a CCD for still image
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N5/00Details of television systems
    • H04N5/222Studio circuitry; Studio devices; Studio equipment ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, TV cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules for embedding in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/225Television cameras ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules specially adapted for being embedded in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/232Devices for controlling television cameras, e.g. remote control ; Control of cameras comprising an electronic image sensor
    • H04N5/23216Control of parameters, e.g. field or angle of view of camera via graphical user interface, e.g. touchscreen
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N5/00Details of television systems
    • H04N5/222Studio circuitry; Studio devices; Studio equipment ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, TV cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules for embedding in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/225Television cameras ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules specially adapted for being embedded in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/232Devices for controlling television cameras, e.g. remote control ; Control of cameras comprising an electronic image sensor
    • H04N5/23296Control of means for changing angle of the field of view, e.g. optical zoom objective, electronic zooming or combined use of optical and electronic zooming
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N5/00Details of television systems
    • H04N5/222Studio circuitry; Studio devices; Studio equipment ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, TV cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules for embedding in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/225Television cameras ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules specially adapted for being embedded in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/247Arrangements of television cameras

Abstract

A user activation of an image capture function of a consumer electronic device is received. The image capture function is for a surround image mode. Two or more camera lenses of a consumer electronic device case are approximately concurrently activated. Responsive to activating the lenses, a front-side image from a first camera lens and a rear-side image from a second camera lens are optically captured. Content from the front-side image and content from the rear-side are recorded in a non-transitory storage medium of the mobile device within a single file for a surround mode image.

Description

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 14/092,393, filed on Nov. 27, 2013 of which is incorporated herein in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

The present invention relates to the field of imaging and, more particularly, to a enabling the integration of a three hundred and sixty degree panoramic camera within a consumer electronic device case.

Increasingly, camera equipped mobile devices like portable computing tablets are replacing formerly discrete devices, such as still and video cameras. Consumers have begun to demand additional functionality from these devices (or from digital cameras). For example, cameras able to record depth for 3D and 4D imagining have begun to emerge. Similarly, panoramic modes for image capture are becoming an increasingly popular feature of many modern consumer device operating systems.

Conventional panoramic capture modes require successive movements of a device with a single activated lens. The movement permits different fields of view to be captured at different points in time, which can be stitched together into a panoramic view. Using conventional techniques, capturing scenes in this manner can be time consuming, and dynamic movement within the scenes (causing discrepancies in the time spaced images) can be problematic.

Another conventional panoramic technique is to utilize a single ultra-wide angle lens to capture a panoramic scene. This ultra-wide angle lenses may result in significant distortion, but the convenience of capturing a scene without time spacing images, outweighs these negatives to many users and manufactures. Some panoramic lenses are optical peripherals attachable to a mobile device, such as a tablet) to bend incoming light (using a fish-eye lens for example) before it enters the camera's internal optical components.

One solution such as clip on adapters which permit panoramic capabilities can cause the consumer electronic device to be cumbersome and weighty. Further, the solutions often only provide limited field of view which can result in the omission of critical imagery. Additionally, many adapters force users to orient devices in non-standard orientations (e.g., flat) which can block users from seeing a live preview of a panoramic camera.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is a schematic diagram illustrating a set of embodiments for enabling the integration of a three hundred and sixty degree panoramic camera within a consumer electronic device case in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive arrangements disclosed herein.

FIG. 1B is a schematic diagram illustrating a set of embodiments for enabling the integration of a three hundred and sixty degree panoramic camera within a consumer electronic device case in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive arrangements disclosed herein.

FIG. 1C is a schematic diagram illustrating a set of embodiments for enabling the integration of a three hundred and sixty degree panoramic camera within a consumer electronic device case in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive arrangements disclosed herein.

FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram illustrating a system for enabling the integration of a three hundred and sixty degree panoramic camera within a consumer electronic device case in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive arrangements disclosed herein.

FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram illustrating a method for enabling the integration of a three hundred and sixty degree panoramic camera within a consumer electronic device case in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive arrangements disclosed herein.

FIG. 4A-H is a schematic diagram illustrating a set of embodiments for enabling the integration of a three hundred and sixty degree panoramic camera within a consumer electronic device case in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive arrangements disclosed herein.

FIG. 5A-J is a schematic diagram illustrating a set of embodiments for enabling the integration of a three hundred and sixty degree panoramic camera within a consumer electronic device case in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive arrangements disclosed herein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present disclosure is a solution for enabling the integration of a three hundred and sixty degree panoramic camera within a consumer electronic device case. In the solution, a panoramic camera can be embedded within a consumer electronic device case. The camera can include one or more wide angle lense, ultra wide angle lense, and the like. In one embodiment, the panoramic camera can include a front and rear facing lense which can capture an aggregate field of view of 180 degrees or greater. In one instance, the panoramic camera of the case can be triggered in response to a surround mode of a consumer electronic device.

As will be appreciated by one skilled in the art, aspects of the present invention may be embodied as a system, method or computer program product. Accordingly, aspects of the present invention may take the form of an entirely hardware embodiment, an entirely software embodiment (including firmware, resident software, micro-code, etc.) or an embodiment combining software and hardware aspects that may all generally be referred to herein as a “circuit,” “module” or “system.” Furthermore, aspects of the present invention may take the form of a computer program product embodied in one or more computer readable medium(s) having computer readable program code embodied thereon.

Any combination of one or more computer readable medium(s) may be utilized. The computer readable medium may be a computer readable signal medium or a computer readable storage medium. A computer readable storage medium may be, for example, but not limited to, an electronic, magnetic, optical, electromagnetic, infrared, or semiconductor system, apparatus, or device, or any suitable combination of the foregoing. More specific examples (a non-exhaustive list) of the computer readable storage medium would include the following: an electrical connection having one or more wires, a portable computer diskette, a hard disk, a random access memory (RAM), a read-only memory (ROM), an erasable programmable read-only memory (EPROM or Flash memory), an optical fiber, a portable compact disc read-only memory (CD-ROM), an optical storage device, a magnetic storage device, or any suitable combination of the foregoing. In the context of this document, a computer readable storage medium may be any tangible medium that can contain, or store a program for use by or in connection with an instruction execution system, apparatus, or device.

A computer readable signal medium may include a propagated data signal with computer readable program code embodied therein, for example, in baseband or as part of a carrier wave. Such a propagated signal may take any of a variety of forms, including, but not limited to, electro-magnetic, optical, or any suitable combination thereof. A computer readable signal medium may be any computer readable medium that is not a computer readable storage medium and that can communicate, propagate, or transport a program for use by or in connection with an instruction execution system, apparatus, or device.

Program code embodied on a computer readable medium may be transmitted using any appropriate medium, including but not limited to wireless, wireline, optical fiber cable, RF, etc., or any suitable combination of the foregoing. Computer program code for carrying out operations for aspects of the present invention may be written in any combination of one or more programming languages, including an object oriented programming language such as Java, Smalltalk, C++ or the like and conventional procedural programming languages, such as the “C” programming language or similar programming languages. The program code may execute entirely on the user's computer, partly on the user's computer, as a stand-alone software package, partly on the user's computer and partly on a remote computer or entirely on the remote computer or server. In the latter scenario, the remote computer may be connected to the user's computer through any type of network, including a local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN), or the connection may be made to an external computer (for example, through the Internet using an Internet Service Provider).

Aspects of the present invention are described below with reference to flowchart illustrations and/or block diagrams of methods, apparatus (systems) and computer program products according to embodiments of the invention. It will be understood that each block of the flowchart illustrations and/or block diagrams, and combinations of blocks in the flowchart illustrations and/or block diagrams, can be implemented by computer program instructions.

These computer program instructions may be provided to a processor of a general purpose computer, special purpose computer, or other programmable data processing apparatus to produce a machine, such that the instructions, which execute via the processor of the computer or other programmable data processing apparatus, create means for implementing the functions/acts specified in the flowchart and/or block diagram block or blocks.

These computer program instructions may also be stored in a computer readable medium that can direct a computer, other programmable data processing apparatus, or other devices to function in a particular manner, such that the instructions stored in the computer readable medium produce an article of manufacture including instructions which implement the function/act specified in the flowchart and/or block diagram block or blocks.

The computer program instructions may also be loaded onto a computer, other programmable data processing apparatus, or other devices to cause a series of operational steps to be performed on the computer, other programmable apparatus or other devices to produce a computer implemented process such that the instructions which execute on the computer or other programmable apparatus provide processes for implementing the functions/acts specified in the flowchart and/or block diagram block or blocks.

FIG. 1A is a schematic diagram illustrating a set of embodiments 110, 140, 150 for enabling the integration of a three hundred and sixty degree panoramic camera within a consumer electronic device case in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive arrangements disclosed herein.

As used herein, case 112 can be a consumer electronic device accessory able to substantially protect and/or enhance the operation, usability, and/or appearance of the device. Case 112 can include, but is not limited to, a decoration 101, protective layers 102, input/output accommodations 103, 360° panoramic camera 104, power source 107, transceiver 108, cavity 109, and the like. Panoramic camera 104 can include, but is not limited to, lenses 105, image sensor 106, and the like. It should be appreciated that case 112 can lack one or more elements 101-109 permitting the functionality of the case described herein is retained.

It should be appreciated that case 112 can include, but is not limited to, socks, gloves, sleeves, pouches, skins, wallets, face plates, armband cases, and the like. It should be understood that case 112 can include any traditional and/or proprietary material including, but not limited to, silicone, soft rubber, high impact materials, and the like. In one instance, sensitive components (e.g., camera 104, power source 107) can be embedded within impact resistant layers to permit the components to be protected from light (e.g., bumps) to harsh use (e.g., drops).

Consumer electronic device 114 can be a computing device able to process, present, and/or modify computing data. Device 114 can include, but is not limited to, input/output elements 11, internal cameras 113, display 115, power source 116, transceiver 117, housing 118, and the like. Device 114 can include additional components or can lack components 111-118 providing the functionality of the consumer electronic device described herein is retained. Device 114 can include, but is not limited to laptop computers, desktop computers, video game controllers, portable media players, tablet computing devices, Personal Digital Assistants (PDA), an electronic reader (e.g., e-ink device), and the like.

It should be appreciated that camera 104 of case 112 can be communicatively linked to device 114. In one embodiment, a real-time view from camera 104 can be presented within display 115 of device 114. In the embodiment, device 114 can be utilized to capture panoramic media from camera 104 during a surround mode 130 (e.g., embodiment 192). For example, a camera application executing on tablet computer (e.g., device 114) can leverage camera 104 to capture a 360 degree view of a real world environment such as a conference room of a building.

In embodiment 110, 140, 150, 160, 170, 192, lenses can be an internal and/or external component of the electronic device case. For example, the case can include one or more panoramic lenses which can enhance the photographic capabilities of internal cameras 113 or can replace the capabilities of internal cameras 113.

In embodiment 110, a consumer electronic device 114 can be physically coupled to a case 112. For example, housing of a tablet can be fitted into cavity of case 112. In one embodiment, case 112 can include a panoramic camera which can include one or more lenses (e.g., lense 142, 152). In the embodiment, device 114 can be communicatively linked to enable the device 114 to utilize the panoramic camera of case 112 to capture panoramic media (e.g., images, video).

In embodiment 140, a tablet case 143 can include a lense 105 which can permit a panoramic view 146. In one instance, lense 105 of a case 143 can be positioned over an internal camera (e.g., 113 of device 114) which can be utilized to replace and/or enhance camera 113 capability. In one configuration, tablet case 143 can include a foldable cover which can fold into a triangular support. In the configuration, lense 105 can be positioned to function while the cover is folded (e.g., inside face of the cover). In the embodiment, the front facing lense 105 can capture a panoramic (e.g., ultra wide angle) field of view 146 which can be communicated to device 114. For example, the lense 105 can be a front facing 360° camera fitted to the front 141 of the case 143 permitting case 143 to operate in a familiar fashion (e.g., pointing the front facing camera at a subject).

In embodiment 150, a front 156 and back 154 of a tablet case 153 can be presented. In the embodiment, tablet case 153 can be a form fitting case which can cover a portion of the back and/or front of a tablet. A tablet case 153 can include a lense 105 can be positioned on front 156 of case 153 and back 154 of case 153. It should be appreciated that lenses 105 can include multiple lenses which can capture a field of view 155, 157, 158, 159.

FIG. 1B is a schematic diagram illustrating a set of embodiments 160, 170 for enabling the integration of a three hundred and sixty degree panoramic camera within a consumer electronic device case in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive arrangements disclosed herein.

In embodiment 160, an E-Reader case 163 can be a sleeve which can permit an electronic device to be friction fitted into the sleeve. In one instance, two lenses 161, 162 can be positioned at the front 168 of a case 163. In another instance, lenses 161 can be positioned on the front 168 of the case 163 and lense 162 can be positioned on the back of the case 163. In one instance, lense 161, 162 can capture field of view 166. In the instance, lenses 161, 162 can cumulatively capture field of view of 270 degrees or greater.

In embodiment 170, a lense 171 can be embedded within a media player case 173. For example, lense 171 can be a panoramic lense integrated into a iPod armband. In one embodiment, a lense 171 can be positioned within a tab 172 (e.g., pull tab) of a case 173. In the embodiment, the lense 171 can be utilized to capture a panoramic media with a field of view 176. In the instance, lense 171 can capture a panoramic image or video with a field of view of 270 degrees or greater.

FIG. 1C is a schematic diagram illustrating a set of embodiments 190, 192 for enabling the integration of a three hundred and sixty degree panoramic camera within a consumer electronic device case in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive arrangements disclosed herein.

In embodiment 190, case 112 components 107, 108 can be coupled to device 114 components 116, 117. In one instance, case 112 can harness power source 116 of device 114 to enable components (e.g., 101-106, 108) to be powered and/or activated. In one embodiment, case 112 can be wirelessly communicatively linked to device 114 via transceivers 108, 117. In another embodiment, case 112 can be physically communicatively coupled to device 114 via one or more data ports. For example, case 112 can include a pass-through connector which can permit case 112 to be physically coupled to a data connector (e.g., charging/data port) of a tablet while permitting data connector to be unobstructed.

In embodiment 192, case 112 can include a camera 104 which can include a rear facing camera and a front facing camera. In one embodiment, device 114 can trigger the usage of both front and rear facing cameras of the case 112 when a surround mode 130 is activated on device 114. For example, mode 130 can permit camera 104 to capture a field of view 194, 196 when a panoramic image mode is selected within a camera application of device 114. It should be appreciated that the camera 104 is not limited to this triggering and can be manually and/or automatically triggered in alternative ways.

Drawings presented herein are for illustrative purposes only and should not be construed to limit the invention in any regard. It should be appreciated that the case 112 can be appropriately configured to ensure device 114 weight distribution is retained.

FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram illustrating a system 200 for enabling the integration of a three hundred and sixty degree panoramic camera within a consumer electronic device case in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive arrangements disclosed herein.

In system 200, consumer electronic device 210 can be communicatively linked and/or coupled to case 212. Case 212 can include, but is not limited to, panoramic camera 214, a flash, and the like.

The lenses 216 each represent an optical lens or assembly of lenses used to make images of object for storage on storage medium 224. Each lens 216 has a set of fundamental parameters associated, which include focal length and aperture. Each lens 216 may also be associated with image stabilizing components and pixel density. Lenses (216) can include, but is not limited to, wide-angle lenses, ultra-wide angle, apochromatic (APO) lens, a process lens, an enlarger lens, a fisheye lens, a stereoscopic lens, a soft focus lens, an infrared lens, an ultraviolent lens, a swivel lens, or a perspective control lens.

The flash of case 212 (not shown) is a component that produces a flash of artificial light (typically for 1/1000 to 1/200 of a second) at a color temperature of about 5500 K to help illuminate a scene. The flash may include a high capacity capacitor chargeable to several hundred volts. Flash can be an air-gap flash, a multi flash component (using multiple flashes to find depth edges or to create a stylized image), a high-current flash LED and the like. In one embodiment, the flash can be an omnidirectional one, which illuminates a front and a back side of the camera 214 (thus permitting front and rear lenses to capture an illuminated scene). The flash may be stationary relative to the device 210 and/or case, or may expend and retract within a body of the device case. In one embodiment, the flash of device 210 may be an assembly of two or more discrete components, such as a front facing flash and a rear facing flash which can be utilized by case 212 during operation.

The consumer electronic device 210 may be a stand-alone device, where all the surround mode imagery functionality is implemented internal to the consumer electronic device 210 and/or within case 212. In another embodiment, the consumer electronic device 210 may be a network 270 connected one, where one or more of the surround mode imagery functions are performed remotely, such as by an image processing server 280. Consumer electronic device 210 may be a mobile communication device able facilitating user communications with one or more remote end-user devices 282. These communications can include the transmission and exchange of surround mode images. For example, end user device may use text messaging (with attachment), video conferencing (streaming video/images captured from imaging component 232), email image conveyances, image file synchronization sharing, and other technologies to provide end user device 282 with imagery from camera 214.

Consumer electronic device 210 includes hardware 220 and software/firmware 250. Not all the elements shown in the hardware 220 and software/firmware 250 need be present for each implementation of the disclosure, and some implementations will include additional (not shown) components. The hardware 220 includes one or more processors 222, a storage medium, a transceiver 226, a display 228, a battery 230 (or other power source), imaging components 232, and the like. The processor 222 can be a central processing unit (CPU) or a microprocessor. Processor 222 carries out instructions of a computer program by performing arithmetical, logical, and input/output operations of a system. The processor 222 can be a single core or multi-core processor. Storage medium 222 can be a non-transitory storage medium, which refers to a medium that is not a carrier wave. Storage medium 222 stores or records information. Storage medium 222 can use magnetic storage, optical storage, electrical storage technologies, and the like.

Transceiver 226 is a component able to transmit and receive information to and from the consumer electronic device 210 and/or case 212. Transceiver 226 communicatively links device 210 to network 270, where the communication link may be a wired or wireless link.

Battery 230 is a power source that provides electronic energy to electronics of the consumer electronic device 210 and/or case 212. The battery 230 is often a chemical battery consisting of one or more electrochemical cells that convert stored chemical energy into electrical energy. Battery 230 may be rechargeable.

In one embodiment, imaging components 232 can be a communicatively linked hardware/software entity. Imaging components 232 are components able to capture images and store those images onto storage medium 224. In one embodiment, the imaging components 232 are digital ones, which include image sensor 234, lenses 236, flash 238, sensors 240, and the like. The image sensors, typically charge-coupled device (CCD) or complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) sensor chips, turn light into discrete signals.

The sensors 240 include any of a variety of sensors used in photography. These sensors 240 can, for example, detect movement of the device 210, which is especially useful when taking time-spaced images (see step 134). Sensors 240 may include an accelerometer, a tilt sensor, a gyroscope, a global positioning system (GPS) element, a compass, a barometer, an altimeter, and the like.

The software/firmware 250 may include one or more of an image capture module 252, an image timing module 254, an image combiner 256, an optic control module 258, a digital imaging processor (DIP) module 260, a user interface module 262, and the like. In one instance, software/firmware 250 can include user applications, system applications, an operating system, and the like.

The image capture module 252 may capture images from multiple lenses facing substantially different directions. For example, the software/firmware of module 252 may capture images substantially concurrently from a front facing camera lens and a rear facing camera lens of a consumer electronic device.

The image timing module 254 module controls a timing of images from multiple different lens(es) 236. In one embodiment, the image timing module 254 can synchronize image capture times from a front facing lens and from a rear facing lens. Video from multiple different (and differently facing) lenses can also be timed. In one embodiment, the timing can be intentionally staggered and/or unified with a sensor (such as a tilt sensor or accelerometer) to take pictures after the device 210 have moved so that the lens(es) 236 cover a different field of view than what is covered in an initial image capture. Super-pixilation (from multiple different images at different times with slightly different angles) can be achieved in one embodiment, by suitable adjustments of the image timing module 254.

The image combiner 256 module combines content from multiple different lenses. The combiner 256 can stitch together images with common or overlapping regions. The image combiner 256 can create images including depth (3D and 4D images), in contemplated embodiments. The image combiner 256 may adjust lighting, contrast, and other image characteristics to optimize them, by combining images taken from different lens(se) 236.

The optic control module 258 controls optical components of the system. Focus, focal length, zoom, flash, angle, and the like are all able to be controlled by program instructions of the optic control module 258 being executed by processor 222.

The digital imaging processor (DIP) module 260 uses computer algorithms to perform image processing on digital images. The DIP module 260 can perform utilize technologies for pixilation, linear filtering, principal components analysis, independent component analysis, Hidden Markov models, anisotropic diffusion, partial differential equations, self-organizing maps, neural networks, wavelets, and the like. Additional DIP processing may occur in image processing server 280 in one embodiment.

User interface 262 can be a human-to-machine interface for the consumer electronic device 210. The user interface may interact through a touch screen display (228), to a set of one or more physical buttons that may exist within the hardware 220, to wirelessly connected peripherals that receive user input and/or produce output, and the like. The user interface 262 permits the user to take pictures, video, and sound recordings using the consumer electronic device 210. The user interface 262 also permits control of hardware/software functions related to imagery and to establish and change user configuration preferences.

FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram illustrating a method 300 for enabling the integration of a three hundred and sixty degree panoramic camera within a consumer electronic device case in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive arrangements disclosed herein.

In step 310, a consumer electronic device case with an embedded panoramic camera can be coupled to a consumer electronic device. A user may activate a consumer electronic device case camera function in a surround image mode, as shown by step 320. In step 322, two or more lenses of the consumer electronic device case are initiated to cover an area on both side of the consumer electronic device. Initiating the lenses can take them from a minimal (or no power) state to an active one. In surround image mode, the total captured area of the multiple lenses is greater than one hundred and eighty degrees and may or may not be a continuous overlapping capture area.

In step 324, a display of the camera may provide feedback to a user showing image content from one or more lenses of the camera embedded within the case. The feedback can be displayed, for example, on a user interface (e.g., 310) shown on a touch screen (e.g., embodiment 190). In step 326, a set of pre-image capture device adjustments can occur. These adjustments may include focusing the lens, zooming the lens, repositioning and/or powering up a flash component (e.g., charging the capacitor), and the like. In step 328, a specialized flash (referred to as a surround flash) can be triggered as necessary/appropriate before image(s) are captured. The surround flash may illuminate an environment on both sides of a consumer electronic device.

In step 330, the lenses themselves are active to capture images. This image capture occurs (from the multiple lenses) at approximately or substantially the same time. In step 332, the images that were captured are stored in a storage medium and integrated within a single surround image file. Alternatively, a folder (referred to as a surround image folder) including multiple images from different lenses may be created. Additionally, both a surround image file and surround image folder may be used in embodiments (i.e., the surround image folder stores a set of lens-specific raw images and the surround image file is created from these raw images).

The camera of the consumer electronic device case may or may not take a series of time spaced images when surround mode is activated. This novel function is an extension of conventional panoramic functions, where a single lens is used to create a panoramic image by moving the camera of the case or the consumer electronic device itself (and the capturing lens) to create a capture region greater than otherwise possible. If a camera of the consumer electronic device does take additional time spaced images, the process 300 can progress from step 334 to step 324. Once all (if any) time spaced images are taken, the process may progress from step 334 to step 336. In step 336, an in-camera processor (or a remote one assuming the raw images are conveyed over a network to a remote server) may use one or more internal digital signal processing (DSP) function(s) to process stored images. In step 138, a set of post-image capture device adjustments may occur. These adjustments can change the power state of optic components, of a flash, may adjust the user interface 110, and the like.

FIG. 4A-H is a schematic diagram illustrating a set of embodiments for enabling the integration of a three hundred and sixty degree panoramic camera within a consumer electronic device case in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive arrangements disclosed herein.

FIG. 4A-4H show different arrangements of lenses for a panoramic camera embedded within a case. Although the examples in FIG. 4A-4F assume a small optics board having lenses facing in different directions, one of ordinary skill can recognize that the shown lens arrangements can also apply for other positions. FIG. 4G shows a substantially opaque outer casing for a panoramic camera of a consumer electronic device case. FIG. 4H shows a substantially transparent outer casing for a panoramic camera of a consumer electronic device case.

FIG. 4A-4C show different side views of a dual facing panoramic camera of a consumer electronic device case. In FIG. 4A, one front facing lens 410 faces in an opposing direction to one rear facing lens 412. The lenses may have approximately equivalent or intentionally different imaging characteristics depending on implementation choices.

FIG. 4B shows two different lenses per side of a dual facing panoramic camera of a consumer electronic device case. These different lenses may be useful for different functions, and may have different optical characteristics. For example, one front facing 422 and one rear facing 424 lens may be normal lenses for standard pictures. The additional front facing 426 and rear facing 428 lenses may be ultra-wide lenses, which are able to capture a substantially greater field of view for a surround mode. The ultra-wide lenses may be subject to substantially more distortion than their counterparts 422, 424. Further, images can be captured using both the front facing 422, 426 and/or both the rear-facing 424, 428 lenses, which are able to be processed to achieve image results significantly better than is possible with a single lens alone. That is, the different optical characteristics of the lenses can be synergetic to produce a combined whole greater than either of the discrete parts. Use of two lenses facing in a common direction as shown by FIG. 4B can result in very flexible optics able to serve a gambit of functions.

FIG. 4C shows a series of five 430-438 different lenses, facing different angles about a curved surface of a panoramic camera base of a consumer electronic device case. The base may be a substrate into which the optical components are directly integrated. The base may also include additional components built on top a substantially flat substrate to produce fixed angles for the various lenses 430-438. As shown, a full overlapping field of view of greater than 270 degrees can be created from the five lenses 430-438. Software/firmware can be used to select which of the lenses 430-438 are to be used for which image capture functions of a mobile device.

FIG. 4D-4F show angled views of different lens arrangements. FIG. 4D represents a panoramic camera embedded within a consumer electronic device case, which has one lens 442 on the shown side. FIG. 4E represents a panoramic camera embedded within a consumer electronic device case having two lenses 444, 446 facing in the same direction. The single lens 442 may be on one side, and two lenses 444, 446 may be on an opposing side of the same panoramic camera. Alternatively, the panoramic camera can have the same number of lens per side (as shown by FIGS. 4A and 4B). Any number of lenses may appear on a single side of an image component, which are positioned in the same or different angles. For example, FIG. 4F shows four different lenses 448-454 on a single side of panoramic camera, which face at different angles relative to a substantially flat plane of that side of the panoramic camera. The sides of the camera may form substantially or approximately flat plains, or may be curved depending on implementation choices.

FIGS. 4G and 4H show an outer shell or segment 470 for a panoramic camera embedded within a consumer electronic device case consistent with corner segment 310. In FIG. 4G, a set of lenses 460-468 follow an outer curve of the segment 470. An additional front 472 and/or rear lens may be included in segment 470. The outer shell of FIG. 4G does not permit light to pass through in an optically significant fashion. Thus, either a portion of the lenses 460-468, 472) must physically extrude from the outer shell and/or the lenses 460-468, 472 can be inset into the shell 470 but a small transparent membrane can permit light to pass to the lenses 460-468, 472.

FIG. 4H shows a transparent outer shell for segment 486, which permits light to pass through to be captured by included lenses 480-484. The outer shell may be polarized/un-polarized and may have additional filters, which do not negatively affect an ability of the lenses 480-484 to capture light. A transparent outer shell permits light to pass through a variety of angles, which is highly beneficial for many surround image mode embodiments.

FIG. 5A-J is a schematic diagram illustrating a set of embodiments for enabling the integration of a three hundred and sixty degree panoramic camera within a consumer electronic device case in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive arrangements disclosed herein.

FIGS. 5G and 5H show embodiments where one or more lenses is stationary relative to a mounted surface (e.g., surface of a consumer electronic device case), which is connected by hinge 532. The surface can have a collapsed state 530, where the lenses are facing in approximately or substantially opposing directions. In a butterflied state 534, the surfaces can have a substantial angle between them, which results in lenses attached to the mounted surface capturing different content.

FIGS. 5I and 5J show another embodiment, where a surface mounts on a rotatable axle. The surface may have a first state 538, where an included set of lenses are in front and rear facing positions. The surface can rotate 544 about the axis, so that the included lenses are angled significantly.

Although many configurations for movable lenses are shown (FIG. 5D-5J) others are contemplated. For example, conventional pan, tilt, zoom (PTZ) mechanisms exist, which can be utilized herein. Additionally, instead of a track 522 along which a lens moves, a different track can be established to move the panoramic camera (e.g., 212).

Regardless of whether the lenses are fixed or movable, many different techniques exist for capturing images when operating in a surround mode. FIG. 5A-5C show an embodiment where two opposing lenses can capture 360 degree images in surround mode. As shown by FIG. 5A, a device positioned in an upward state 510 is able to capture front region 512 using a first facing lens and rear region 514 using a rear facing lens. While still in surround image mode, the device can be tilted sideways so it is in a sideward state 516. When so positioned, the front facing lens can capture region 518 and the rear facing lens can capture region 520. An accelerometer or other sensor (sensors 240) can detect this movement in one embodiment. Regions 512 and 514 can be captured at substantially a first point in time, and regions 518 and 520 can be captured at substantially a second point in time. The overall captured regions are shown in FIG. 5C, which assumes a stable pivot position of the imaging component. The regions 512-520 as shown in FIG. 5C substantially overlap, so that using images captured at two points in time, a surround region is captured.

Embodiments having actuator-associated lenses capable of movement can utilize a similar technique, where a first image is captured when a lens is in a first position (like state 524) and a second image is captured when a lens is in a second position (like state 526). Thus, different regions, which overlap in a surround mode (as shown in FIG. 5C, for example) can result from a mobile device maintained in a relatively stable position, in which image capture lenses move.

Unlike prior art, where a single lens is moved multiple times to join images into a panorama, using multiple lenses facing different directions (even when movement occurs) is less sensitive to motions in a captured scene. For example, a full three sixty degree region is captured using two time-spaced images (FIG. 5C) per the disclosure, where an equivalent using a single lens would require additional movements and image captures. Dynamic objects will likely be moving in a scene during these time periods, which greatly confounds problems with image stitching. Minimizing the movement (by using multiple lenses facing in different directions) either totally eliminates dynamic movement problems (in embodiments where images are captured at a single point in time) or significantly alleviates the problem (when multiple lenses facing different directions take images at two or more times) with dynamic artifacts.

The flowchart and block diagrams in the FIGS. 1-5J illustrate the architecture, functionality, and operation of possible implementations of systems, methods and computer program products according to various embodiments of the present invention. In this regard, each block in the flowchart or block diagrams may represent a module, segment, or portion of code, which comprises one or more executable instructions for implementing the specified logical function(s). It should also be noted that, in some alternative implementations, the functions noted in the block may occur out of the order noted in the figures. For example, two blocks shown in succession may, in fact, be executed substantially concurrently, or the blocks may sometimes be executed in the reverse order, depending upon the functionality involved. It will also be noted that each block of the block diagrams and/or flowchart illustration, and combinations of blocks in the block diagrams and/or flowchart illustration, can be implemented by special purpose hardware-based systems that perform the specified functions or acts, or combinations of special purpose hardware and computer instructions.

Claims (20)

What is claimed is:
1. A method for implementing image capture from a consumer electronic device comprising:
receiving a user activation of an image capture function of a consumer electronic device, wherein the image capture function is for a surround image mode, wherein a case substantially encapsulating the consumer electronic device comprises a first and second camera lenses that are positionable by an actuator to adjust an angle of view of captured images;
responsive to the user activation, approximately concurrently activating two or more camera lenses for capturing images at a first and a second time, said two or more camera lenses comprising a first and a second camera lens of the case, wherein said first and second camera lenses are interior components deposed between a front and a back side of the case, wherein a total size of a combined field of view of the first and second camera lenses is at least two hundred and seventy degrees;
at approximately the first time, capturing a front-side image using the first camera lens and a rear-side image using the second camera lens;
between the first time and the second time, the consumer electronic device triggering the actuator to reposition at least one of the first and the second camera lenses to adjust the angle of view;
at approximately the second time, capturing a second front-side image using the first camera lens and a second rear-side image using the second camera lens, wherein at the second time, the actuator has adjusted the angle of at least one of the first and second camera lenses; and
recording, in the single file for a surround mode image in a non-transitory storage medium of the consumer electronic device, content from the second front-side image and the second rear-side image in addition to the front-side image from the first time and the rear-side image from the second time.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the first and second camera lenses capture images in substantially opposing directions, wherein the first camera lens is a front facing lens, and wherein the second camera lens is a rear facing lens.
3. The method of claim 1, wherein single file has a panoramic image format.
4. The method of claim 1, wherein the first and the second camera lenses are ultra wide angle lenses, each having angles of view between one hundred and fifty degrees and one hundred and eighty degrees, wherein raw content captured by the first and second camera lenses are hemispherical images.
5. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
a processor within the consumer electronic device stitching content from the first and second camera lenses together to create a substantially continuous image as the surround mode image.
6. The method of claim 1, wherein no overlapping region exists between the front side image and the rear side image.
7. The method of claim 1, wherein the one or more camera lenses comprise at third camera lens of the case, wherein the third camera lens is a side facing lens positioned approximately orthogonally to the first camera lens and the second camera lens, said method further comprising:
responsive to activating the lenses, optically capturing a side image from the third camera lens, wherein the single file for the surround mode image comprises content from the side image as well as content from the front-side image and the rear-side image.
8. The method of claim 1, wherein the front-side image and the rear-side image from the first time lack an overlapping region of a captured scene, wherein the second front-side image and the second rear-side image from the second time both overlap with the front-side image and with the rear-side image from the first time, wherein the content of the surround mode image is a continuous three-hundred and sixty degree image of the captured scene.
9. A consumer electronic device case comprising:
two or more camera lenses, which comprise a first and a second camera lens of case, wherein the case substantially encapsulates the consumer electronic device, wherein said first and second camera lenses are interior components deposed between a front and a back side of the case, wherein a total size of a combined field of view of the first and second camera lenses is at least two hundred and seventy degrees;
an actuator for positioning the first and second camera lenses to adjust an angle of view of captured images;
a non-transitory storage medium; and
one or more processors executing program instructions to:
receive a user activation of an image capture function of the consumer electronic device, wherein the image capture function is for a surround image mode;
responsive to the user activation, approximately concurrently activating the two or more camera lenses for capturing images at a first and a second time
capture, at approximately the first time, a front-side image using the first camera lens and a rear-side image using the second camera lens;
trigger, between the first time and the second time, the actuator to reposition at least one of the first and the second camera lenses to adjust the angle of view;
capture, at approximately the second time, a second front-side image using the first camera lens and a second rear-side image using the second camera lens, wherein at the second time, the actuator has adjusted the angle of at least one of the first and second camera lenses; and
record, in the single file for a surround mode image in a non-transitory storage medium of the consumer electronic device, content from the second front-side image and the second rear-side image in addition to the front-side image from the first time and the rear-side image from the second time.
10. The consumer electronic device case of claim 9, wherein the two or more camera lenses are positioned in a corner of the case.
11. The consumer electronic device case of claim 9, wherein the case comprises a removable section, wherein the removable section comprises imaging components comprising the two or more camera lenses, wherein different user pluggable removable sections enable different optical characteristics to be selectively enabled for the consumer electronic device.
12. The consumer electronic device case of claim 9, wherein the two or more camera lenses comprise a third camera lens, which is a side facing lens positioned approximately orthogonally to the first and the second camera lens.
13. The consumer electronic device case of claim 9, wherein the case comprises a corner section that is optically transparent, wherein the corner section comprises imaging components for the case, wherein the image components comprise the two or more camera lenses, wherein the two or more camera lenses capture imagery through all sides of the optically transparent corner section.
14. The consumer electronic device case of claim 9, wherein in addition to the first camera lens and the second camera lens, the two or more camera lenses comprise a rear-facing ultra-wide angle lens and a front-facing ultra wide angle lens.
15. The consumer electronic device case of claim 9, wherein the case is a mobile device accessory.
16. A computer program product comprising a non-transitory computer readable storage medium having computer usable program code embodied therewith, the computer usable program code comprising:
computer usable program code of a non-transitory storage medium configured to receive a user activation of an image capture function of a consumer electronic device, wherein the image capture function is for a surround image mode, wherein a case substantially encapsulating the consumer electronic device comprises a first and second camera lenses that are positionable by an actuator to adjust an angle of view of captured images from that camera;
computer usable program code of the non-transitory storage medium configured to responsive to the user activation, approximately concurrently activate two or more camera lenses for capturing images at a first and a second time, said two or more camera lenses comprising a first and a second camera lens of the case, wherein said first and second camera lenses are interior components deposed between a front and a back side of the consumer electronic device wherein a total size of a combined field of view of the first and second camera lenses is at least two hundred and seventy degrees;
computer usable program code of the non-transitory storage medium configured to capture, at approximately the first time, a front-side image using the first camera lens and a rear-side image using the second camera lens;
computer usable program code of the non-transitory storage medium configured to trigger, between the first time and the second time, the actuator to reposition at least one of the first and the second camera lenses to adjust the angle of view;
computer usable program code of the non-transitory storage medium configured to capture, at approximately the second time, a second front-side image using the first camera lens and a second rear-side image using the second camera lens, wherein at the second time, the actuator has adjusted the angle of at least one of the first and second camera lenses; and
computer usable program code of the non-transitory storage medium configured to record, in the single file for a surround mode image in a non-transitory storage medium of the consumer electronic device, content from the second front-side image and the second rear-side image in addition to the front-side image from the first time and the rear-side image from the second time.
17. The computer program product of claim 16, wherein the first and second camera lenses capture images in substantially opposing directions, wherein the first camera lens is a front facing lens, and wherein the second camera lens is a rear facing lens.
18. The computer program product of claim 16, wherein the product is configured to communicate with electronic components of the case.
19. The computer program product of claim 18, wherein the components is the first and second camera lenses.
20. The computer program product of claim 18, wherein the components is at least one of a power source and a transceiver.
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